Trump administration unveils new executive order on counterterrorism sanctions

The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled a new executive order that, among other provisions aimed at expanding counterterrorism sanctions, will allow the U.S. to target terrorist leaders without having to tie them to specific acts.

“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that they risk sanctions if they knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant transactions with designated terrorists and terrorist enablers,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE said in a statement accompanying the executive order. 

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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate deadlocked on relief measures The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden vs. Trump as Sanders exits race GOP rep calls for US to bring international case against China over coronavirus MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Trump downplays need for widespread testing before reopening economy On The Money: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | More than 6M file for jobless benefits | Fed launches T in economic relief | Dems, Mnuchin in talks over next aid deal MORE detailed the measure during a briefing with reporters at the White House, but the announcement was overshadowed by the firing of national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonChina sees chance to expand global influence amid pandemic Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office MORE, who had been scheduled to attend the event, just two hours earlier. 

The executive order amends a previous directive to allow the State and Treasury Departments to directly target leaders of terrorist groups and associated entities without having to tie them to specific acts, Pompeo said. 

He also said it “more effectively and efficiently targets individuals and entities who participate in terrorist training, and provides new authorities to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly do business with terrorists.” 

Mnuchin said the executive order “greatly enhances our ability to identify, sanction and deter perpetrators of terrorism worldwide.”

In conjunction with the announcement, the Treasury Department sanctioned more than a dozen leaders, individuals and entities affiliated with designated terror groups, including those affiliated with ISIS and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force. The State Department also announced 12 new terrorist designations on Tuesday. 

The announcement came on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Pompeo called the measure the “most significant update” to counterterrorism authorities in 18 years.  

“Today’s executive order … adds further muscle to U.S. counterterrorism efforts,” he said. “It will help us to ensure that the deadly attacks of Sept. 11 that occurred 18 years ago this week will never be repeated on American soil.” 

The briefing took place shortly after President Trump abruptly announced he had ousted John Bolton as national security adviser. Bolton was originally scheduled to attend Tuesday afternoon’s briefing, before Trump tweeted that he had submitted his resignation. 

Asked if they were caught off guard by Bolton’s sudden departure, Pompeo responded that he’s “never surprised.”

“And I don’t mean that on just this issue,” Pompeo said. “And I think Secretary Mnuchin would say the same thing.”